Amazon strong-arms Independent Publishers' Group, yanks all titles from the Kindle store

Eileen Gunn sez, "Amazon, seeking to force independent book distributor IPG to accept a new, less favorable contract, has struck out at all the publishers and authors whose books are distributed by IPG. Not to mention all the readers with Kindles: You want a Kindle version of the American Cancer Society Nutrition Guide? You're out of luck at Amazon. Maybe you should have bought a Nook."

Or maybe the distributor should have thought of that before allowing DRM for some or all of its catalog, which means that people who bought Kindle editions of their books to date are now locked into Kindle and can't convert their books for other platforms. Otherwise, IPG could switch to Nook books (insisting that they be sold DRM-free) and advertise that readers are free to convert their old Kindle books to run on the Nook, or their new Nook books to run on their old Kindles.

Suchomel writes: " is putting pressure on publishers and distributors to change their terms for electronic and print books to be more favorable toward Amazon. Our electronic book agreement recently came up for renewal, and Amazon took the opportunity to propose new terms for electronic and print purchases that would have substantially changed your revenue from the sale of both. It's obvious that publishers can't continue to agree to terms that increasingly reduce already narrow margins. I have spoken directly with many of our clients and every one of them agrees that we need to hold firm with the terms we now offer. I'm not sure what has changed at Amazon over the last few months that they now find it unacceptable to buy from IPG at terms that are acceptable to our other customers." Suchomel reiterated to us that the company's terms of sale for ebooks have not changed.

Amazon Removes Kindle Versions of IPG Books After Distributor Declines to Change Selling Terms


  1. FYI, Barnes and Noble eBooks aren’t DRM free. Yes, they allow you to download any books you buy as EPUB or several other formats, but the EPUB version is encumbered with encryption, and I assume the others are as well. Worse yet, it’s a unique type of encryption which effectively requires you to use their EPUB reading software. On the plus side, this encryption isn’t robustly implemented; it’s pretty easy to decrypt your books and save them as unencrypted EPUBs. Or so I’ve been told.

    Note also, in support of my statement: their eBook FAQ makes no assertion that DRM is absent.

    1.  I require that my books be sold in the Nook store without DRM, and am assured by B&N and Macmillan that this requirement is honored (furthermore, each of the ebooks sold in both the Kindle and Nook stores has a special additional text telling readers to get CC-licensed versions that aren’t EULA-encumbered in a way that limits their traditional rights in copyright).

      1.  I have shared so many of your books with others using the CC versions, which caused myself or others to buy copies to give to analog only readers. Thank you for granting copy-left to your work.

      2. In the interests of confirming the above, I bought one of your books from B&N. You’re right, no DRM; it opened right up in iBooks with none of the errors my other books gave me. Thanks for the correction. It’s good to know that this is at least possible on B&N, if not well-advertised.

    2. The Nook store allows publishing with no DRM but does NOT go out of its way to tell the customer which items are DRM-encumbered and which are not.

  2. I’ll be interested to see how this tactic plays out. Will Amazon get things all their way, or will it be a case of “The Internet interprets heavy-handed grabs for market domination as damage, and routes around them”?

    If there’s enough demand for a particular publisher’s books, and enough alternative ways to get them, this tactic could backfire.

  3. Dear Amazon, more of this please. The sooner everyone recognizes Bezos for the dbag he is, the better. Love, a-consumer-who-wont-buy-Kindle

    1. Pasting to my material and linking to blog entry. Thanks for the heads up BEFORE I put anything out on Smashwords.

  4. Great. Now will BB finally stop including Amazon-only links on their book reviews? You can’t criticize Amazon like this and still provide only that option for purchasing books.

  5. IPG does sell through other channels already. So it’s not particularly useful for them to threaten to do so.  Does anyone know if it was Amazon or IPG that insisted on DRM?

  6. I have had my head in the sand for a while with Amazon, simply because I love my Kindle, but am starting to get annoyed/anxious with what they are doing. What are the alternatives? What are yall’s eInk reading setups?

    1. I’m super-happy with my Nook Color. I immediately rooted it, so now I can read B&N Nook books, or Kindle books, or anything without DRM. You can also (and probably should, as insurance) strip the DRM off the books you buy, apparently Calibre is very good for this.

      1. Agreed.  I mainly buy from Amazon, but read on my Nook Color.  I had a Nook Simple touch that I destroyed, but I like that better than the Kindle as well.  My daughter has an older Sony eReader that she loves.  I simply purchase on Amazon, rip out the DRM with Calibre plugins and move it to her device.

    2. Try  They sell Kindle files.  They have a limited selection but it’s really good. 

  7. Solution is easy. DO by a Kindle, because Amazon is subsidizing it for you. Then never register it. Then use Calibre for converting books you buy or get elsewhere. Then be happy.

  8. Kindle (or Nook) ebooks + calibre (ereader software) + DRM-stripping plugins =  a VERY happy Kobo user (me).

    I have no problems paying for my books, but I do expect to be able to use them the way I see fit, much like a paper copy I buy from a bookstore.

    And that’s all I got to say about that!

    (Oh, and for the record, Kobo supports Epub, and costs the same as a Kindle, AND you are supporting a Canadian company).

  9. Does anyone actually know what Amazon’s new terms are and what the old terms were? It’s really hard to judge the issue based on the information available.

    1.  Best guess for terms: Amazon buys e-books from distributors at approximately 40% of the gross (list price) and print books at 45%.  Plus an obligatory co-op advertising fee of 3% on every sale.  Does it really matter how much more Amazon wants – is that not a sufficient discount? 

  10. Cory, blaming the distributor is implying that it is economically feasible for them to take their business from Amazon, which sells (according to Amazon) 70-80% of all e-books. They’re taking a stand, and a financially painful one at that.

  11. We are one of those publishers affected by this. Last year Amazon attempted to bully major publishers into accepting untenably low prices on Kindle e-books and failed when the “big six” publishing houses held firm—now Amazon has turned its attention to squeezing independent publishers. Over the years Amazon has driven many independent booksellers out of business. That may be cold-blooded capitalism, but now that Amazon has become a publisher itself, it is perfectly willing to take every advantage of also being in the catbird seat as a major bookseller to put a pecuniary gun to the head of publishing competitors. Heretofore book publishers of different stripes have always gotten along. I can firmly state that there is no zero-sum thinking among independent publishers. The gains of one publisher do not diminish those of another. If Amazon thinks it knows best how to price books, it can now put its theories into practice with its own publishing venture. However, Amazon also believes that it should be allowed to lower prices on other publishers’ offerings. Of course this unilateral decision making by Amazon really serves Amazon’s interest while putting independent publishers at risk. Amazon presents itself as the new paradigm in publishing, but at heart it reveals a grocery clerk’s mindset that feels resentment at the fruit cart that sets up for business across the street. Naturally, one should not expect moral fiber from a giant corporation whose interest in books is the same as its interest in lug-wrenches: units to be sold at profit. (It should always be kept in mind that Amazon has no affinity for the written word.) Amazon is used to dictating terms to vendors and it does not look any more kindly upon publishers or publishers’ bottom lines. It may seem a stretch of the imagination even to envision Amazon as the sole publisher in the country, but it is not a stretch to see Amazon as the sole dominant bookseller—this is Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos’ wet dream. What Amazon is doing as a publisher is producing a store brand, a knockoff of a bestselling product that is sold alongside the original, but at a cheaper price. More choices are good for consumers, but how would buyers react if they go into a Wal-Mart and all they see are store brands on the shelves? Far fetched, perhaps, but Amazon has shown by its actions that it has little concern for publishers or readers.

    Luis Ortiz
    Senior Editor
    New York City

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